Breed Profile: Russell Terrier

This super-smart and active breed needs a lot of exercise and loves children.

russell-terrier
Russell terriers are super smart and highly trainable. By: sally9258

Breed

Russell terrier

Group

Terrier

Physical Description

Formerly named the Jack Russell terrier, this high-energy dog is smaller than the Parson Russell terrier. A working breed with a strong hunting instinct, the Russell terrier has a weatherproof coat that is predominantly white with patches or spots of black, tan or both.

The average life expectancy ranges from 12 to 15 years with some living longer. Heights average from 10 to 12 inches and weights from 11 to 13 pounds.

Origin

This breed originated in England in the mid 1800s as fox and vermin hunters. The size of the dog allowed it to be carried in terrier bags on horseback.

The dogs were developed in Australia as the Jack Russell terrier. The breed was renamed in the United States to Russell terrier. This is a separate breed from the Jack and Parson Russell terriers with its different body shape and height. This new breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and accepted into the Westminster Kennel Club dog show as a new breed in 2013.

Purpose

Originally fox and vermin hunters, the breed’s purpose today includes vermin hunter, companion pet, competitive show dog, agility and tracking trial participant.

Temperament

Russell terriers are fearless, confident and loyal animals that are affectionate with their owners. Their high intelligence makes them extremely trainable, and they need socialization and reinforced training to avoid becoming stubborn.

Russell terriers are good with children but should not be left alone with small animals because of their strong hunting instincts.

These terrier breeds are extremely intelligent and so highly trainable that they often appear in movies and on television shows. Here is Jesse performing some pretty amazing tricks that rival a maid and a personal assistant:

Exercise Needs

This very active breed needs regular activity, play and toys and would be great for an active family that enjoys spending time outdoors. They will do well in apartments or city life with regular, daily exercise.

Grooming Requirements

The weatherproof coat needs little grooming apart from a weekly brushing and bathing only when needed. The coat needs to be stripped when competing in conformation. Regular teeth brushing and nail clipping is recommended.

Common Health Problems

Russell terriers are fairly healthy dogs with a small number of regular health problems:

Is the Russell Terrier the Right Dog for You?

While this breed is small and does well in apartments, they need regular exercise and consistent training or they will become stubborn. The high-energy level makes them great companions for a busy, active family that enjoys the outdoors. They are good with children but should not be left alone with small animals due to their strong hunting instincts.

Grooming and health problems are minimal, but the coat will need to be stripped if you plan on entering conformation competitions and shows. If you can provide an activity outlet and like spending time outdoors, the Russell terrier could be the perfect dog for your family.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a Russell terrier, please turn first to adoption resources. Even purebred animals land in shelters sometimes. Try the Petful adoptable pets search. You can also check with rescue groups and breeders. Ensure sure the breeder is reputable.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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